Bpishue

King County Council votes to preserve Metro bus service without raising regressive taxes

September 30, 2014 in Blog

After months of doubt, threats and controversy, bus riders and taxpayers finally have some good news: the King County Councilmembers unanimously voted to stop the bus service cuts they had planned for 2015. County officials now say they will limit their cut to a total of 151,000 hours of bus service, instead of the 600,000 bus hours they threatened earlier this year, citing windfall sales tax revenues and better management practices at Metro.

King County Metro update: Highest-paid unionized workers reject pay raise offer

September 12, 2014 in Blog

Members of Metro Transit’s Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587 voted to turn down a fair contract that would have provided them with a 2% pay raise over three years, The Seattle Times reports today.

The contract offer would have provided a fair pay raise, while allowing King County leaders to preserve more bus service for the public without raising regressive taxes.  Still, 66% of union members rejected the offer, saying it was not generous enough. 

King County officials propose raise to “highest paid in the nation” Metro employees

September 9, 2014 in Blog

Executives at the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587 announced recently they had secured proposed pay raises for their public employee members, who reportedly are already the highest paid in the nation.  Workers will vote September 10th on whether to accept the offered pay raises.   The plan would increases wages by 2% over three years.

 In announcing the proposed agreement one executive reported about maintenance workers:

King County Metro Transit sees windfall sales tax revenue, surge in money exceeds estimates

August 29, 2014 in Blog

The news keeps getting better at King County Metro Transit. Metro officials are the beneficiaries of record-breaking sales tax revenues, and are seeing large tax windfalls that were unthinkable just two years ago. Back then, Metro executives assumed their sales tax revenues would grow at a meager pace, and they planned to impose harsh bus cuts in many communities unless they raised taxes. However, a rebounding economy and swelling coffers should allow officials to keep bus service on the road without regressive tax increases.

Without reform, the ferry system will continue to frustrate passengers

August 21, 2014 in Blog

Many ferry passengers have known for some time that the ferry system in our state is broken. Some state leaders have continuously fought to reform the troubled agency to restore the public trust, only to be met with fierce resistance from powerful labor unions and well-compensated upper management.

Bad budget management and poor use of public money cause financial mess at Island Transit

July 30, 2014 in Blog

New information from Island Transit shows a series of poor financial decisions made by local managers are the source of the district’s trouble, not lack of state money. Island Transit provides bus service and vanpools throughout Whidbey and Camano Islands, with routes connecting Skagit and Snohomish Counties. The agency is fully subsidized by taxpayers and doesn’t collect fares from passengers. Earlier this year, Island Transit officials announced plans to cut the Camano Island to Everett bus route, citing a lack of state tax money as the primary reason.

Seattle leaders’ tax-increase plan to save Metro Transit is a solution looking for a problem

July 25, 2014 in Blog

Seattle voters will have their say in November on another tax plan to “save” Metro bus service. Last week, the Seattle City Council voted to send the tax-increase plan to the November ballot with the following text:

The Seattle Transportation Benefit District’s Proposition 1 concerns funding for Metro Transit service.

King County Council reverses position; keeps 96% of Metro bus service on the road

July 24, 2014 in Blog

Earlier this week, the King County Council unanimously passed an ordinance to preserve 96% of Metro bus service by only adopting a 161,000-hour service cut on September 27th. Metro provides about 3.5 million hours of bus service to King County.  King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski said the following about the adopted cuts (emphasis mine):

As a gesture of goodwill, the state could lower tolls on the 520 bridge next week

July 18, 2014 in Blog

Starting tonight, three westbound lanes of Interstate 90 across Lake Washington will be closed for bridge construction. Despite pleas from the public, state officials are pressing forward with their plan to impose fully-priced tolls on those hit hardest by the road closure. The Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC), the agency responsible for tolling in the region, said they cannot exempt the public from paying tolls on SR-520 during the I-90 construction project, because it needs the $1.3 million in revenue to pay back debt.

Why doesn’t the WSDOT help us out next week?

July 17, 2014 in Blog

Starting tomorrow night, three westbound lanes of Interstate 90 across Lake Washington will be closed for a week due to bridge repairs. The construction could lead to crippling congestion for cars and buses across and around the lake. The unusual shut down has irritated many in the public, who look to state officials to reduce or eliminate the tolls on SR-520 to ease some of the frustration. The Washington State Transportation Commission, responsible for tolling in the region, responded:

Seattle City Council switches gears on rideshares; consumers win big

July 14, 2014 in Blog

Last week, the Seattle City Council reversed course and repealed its earlier decision to artificially cap the number of rideshare drivers in the city. Today, the City Council cleared the next hurdle by legalizing rideshares by an eight to one council vote. The decision, based on an agreement spearheaded by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, gives consumers more choices in how they travel around Seattle’s congested streets.

Seattle Times Editorial Board says raising federal gas tax "probably a bad idea" for Washington state

July 7, 2014 in Blog

The Seattle Times Editorial Board says Congress needs to act to fix the soon-to-be-broke Highway Trust Fund, but they say raising the federal 18.4 cents-per-gallon gas tax is not the way to do it. Lately, Congress has been spending money out of the Highway Trust Fund faster than gas tax money comes in to support it.  The solution, Times editors say, needs to come quickly because Congress only has about 30 days to solve the problem.

Secretary Peterson to drivers: Get ready to live with endless traffic jams

June 23, 2014 in Blog

State officials tell the public that the gas taxes and other driver fees they collect are user fees, deposited into a special trust fund to maintain and expand the state’s road network to provide a quicker trip. It’s a promise to use taxpayer money and make things better. Yet, traffic congestion levels continue to rise.  In an October 2013 poll, 63% of respondents said they were unimpressed with public officials’ performance on relieving traffic congestion.  People’s frustration is understandable.

A big win for consumers - Seattle's Mayor deregulates rideshare services

June 19, 2014 in Blog

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s plan to deregulate rideshare services and reduce the taxi monopoly is a big win for the traveling public.

Editorial cartoon - painful operation to cut King County Metro bus service no longer needed

June 16, 2014 in Blog

In a masterpiece of clarity and concision, The Seattle Times has posted Frank Shiers’ cartoon that gets at the heart of the reason behind the coming cuts in King County Metro bus service.  County Executive Dow Constantine, despite Councilmember Rod Dembowski’s plan that would save 95% of current bus service, is pushing ahead with a painful operation that is no longer necessary.  As Councilmember Larry Phillips put it, “There’s no action more regressive than gutt